One made a difference through public service. One has served the sick, the imprisoned and the homeless. One spent a career advocating for children. Two are helping revitalize downtown Greensboro with theater. Another is leading the way for the next generation. All have made an impact.

Six people have received The University of North Carolina at Greensboro’s top awards for service. They are:

Maggie Jeffus, of Greensboro, Charles Duncan McIver Award, which recognizes individuals who have rendered distinguished public service to the state or nation. The bronze medal bears the likeness of Charles Duncan McIver, the founding president of the institution that is now UNCG.

Richard Whittington and Preston Lane, of Greensboro, Adelaide F. Holderness / H. Michael Weaver Award, which honors North Carolinians who have rendered distinguished public service to their community or state. It is named in honor of Adelaide F. Holderness ’34 and H. Michael Weaver of Greensboro.

Beth Clinkscales McAllister, of Raleigh, and Claudia Buchdahl Kadis, of Raleigh, Alumni Distinguished Service Awards, presented to alumni who have rendered distinctive service on national, state or local levels, and made significant contributions to the liberal arts ideal.

Katie Marshall, of Greensboro, Young Alumni Award, which is presented to alumni who are 40 years of age and younger, and recognizes exceptional achievement and significant contribution to the recipient’s profession or community, society or the university.

The honors were presented by UNCG Chancellor Linda P. Brady during a May 16 program that also recognized donors to the university.

“These six individuals have enjoyed enormous success in their careers, have built vibrant businesses and have enhanced their communities,” Brady said. “They lead by example.”

A little about each recipient:

In January, Rep. Maggie Jeffus ’70 MEd completed her 10th two-year term representing the state’s 59th House district (Guilford County). With 20 years in the General Assembly, she accomplished much, sponsoring a range of successful bills including legislation to create the Haw River State Park; the Address Confidentiality Act, a method to conceal the addresses of domestic violence victims from their abusers; and was the House co-sponsor of Susie’s Law, a bill to strengthen penalties for animal cruelty.

Since arriving in the General Assembly in 1988, Rep. Jeffus has chaired the appropriations sub-committee on General Government for three terms, the appropriations sub-committee on Education for one term and served as a co-chair of the full appropriations sub-committee for two terms, playing a lead role in the annual crafting of North Carolina’s $19 billion budget. Through the years, she has championed funding for the arts, the High Point Furniture Market and public education on all levels. She worked with colleagues to secure $60 million in state funding to build the Joint School of Nanoscience and Nanoengineering.  She also worked to secure operating funds for the school and funds for the pedestrian underpass that will link the UNCG campus with the mixed-use village under construction.

She began her career as a Guilford County school teacher and continued to teach until her retirement in 1997. On campus, she has been a board member of the Musical Arts Guild and is a member of the Spartan Legislative Network. Recently, she led a mock budget session with more than 25 faculty and staff leaders at UNCG’s leadership institute.

One nominator wrote, “I can think of few people who better exemplify the spirit of Charles Duncan McIver than Representative Maggie Jeffus.”

Preston Lane and Richard Whittington, co-founders of Triad Stage, met while graduate students at the Yale School of Drama. They had a dream to create a professional not-for-profit regional theatre, and they chose Greensboro for that dream. Since 2002, Triad Stage has provided jobs to more than 1,000 actors, directors, designers and administrators and opened its doors to undergraduate and graduate students, allowing them to gain their first professional experiences in all aspects of the theatre.

Triad Stage has received accolades on the local, state and national levels including being named “one of the Best Regional Theatres in America” by New York’s Drama League, “one of the top ten most promising theatres in the country” by the American Theatre Wing (founders of the Tony Awards) and twice named “Professional Theatre of the Year” by the North Carolina Theatre Conference (first time in their history to name a theatre twice).

Individually, Lane and Whittington have contributed to the arts across the region.

Whittington was appointed by the governor to serve on the board of the North Carolina Arts Council where he is currently a member of the executive committee. He has also taught and guest lectured at universities across the Triad. Lane is artistic partner for theatre for the Appalachian Summer Festival in Boone. He is also co-coordinator of UNCG’s MFA in Directing program and serves as an adjunct faculty member.

Several nominators wrote of the economic impact of the theatre to the downtown area. On performance nights, restaurants report a 40 percent increase in business. Another notes Triad Stage was an anchor for revitalization efforts that were beginning in the early 2000s and continues to play a large part in the continued growth of downtown Greensboro.

But it’s the intangible benefits that linger. “A belief central to the mission of Triad Stage is that theatre can change peoples’ lives and better the community in which productions are staged,” a nominator wrote. “The experiences Triad Stage has created for its audiences challenge us to think about the world we live in, and to encourage us to think about how and why this matters…. ‘(Theatre) fuels the spirit.’”

While she was a student, Beth Clinkscales McAllister ’63 learned of the February 1960 Woolworth sit-in led by four NC A&T students and went downtown to show her support for their fight for equality. It was just one act in a lifetime of trying to meet needs and create positive change.

In 1974, McAllister led the creation of Meals on Wheels of Wake County. She has personally delivered meals ever since. Also in the 1970s, she led North Carolinians United for the Equal Rights Amendment. She continued her political activity as a volunteer with the League of Women Voters for 35 years.

In 1981, McAllister became executive director of Hospice of Wake County. When she served as president of Hospice of North Carolina, her organization’s lobbying achieved state legislative approval for licensing of hospice organizations. At the time she began working with Hospice, the AIDS pandemic began. She co-founded the AIDS Service Agency of Wake County and chaired the North Carolina Council of Church’s Task Force on Ministry to Persons Living with AIDS.

After receiving her master’s degree in social work, McAllister saw another need with death row inmates. For 15 years, she worked as a mitigation specialist with the NC Death Penalty Resource Center. She then developed Raleigh’s Summit House for non-violent female offenders and their children. Currently, McAllister is counseling homeless families to prepare them to transition from homelessness to permanent housing.

“She has made a career of seeing a need and acting for change, then moving to the next place of need not being met. In so doing, she has inspired many others to join her in working to improve the lives of their neighbors,” wrote one nominator. “The world would truly be a different place if there were more people like Beth McAllister.”

Claudia Buchdahl Kadis ’65 spent her career serving others. As district administrator for the Guardian Ad Litem program in Goldsboro, she spent nearly 20 years recruiting and training volunteers to be advocates for alleged abused and neglected children during court proceedings. She was with the program since its days as a pilot and helped it to grow into a successful model for others.

Outside of work, she has been involved in a number of volunteer organizations: the Mental Health Center, the Human Relations Council, the Arts Council of Wayne County, the Wayne Memorial Hospital Board and The Women’s Network of Wake County. She was one of organizers of the League of Women Voters in Goldsboro and served as president of the League of Women Voters of North Carolina for four years. She also helped with the establishment of the Marbles Museum in Raleigh. She and her husband have been active supporters of the NC Symphony, the Carolina Ballet, the Judaica Collection at the N.C. Museum of Art and the Gregg Museum of Art & Design at NC State.

She has remained dedicated to UNCG as well. She served on the Legislative Network for eight years, was a member of the UNCG Excellence Foundation from 2004 to 2010, established the Claudia Buchdahl Kadis Merit Scholarship in the Arts & Sciences and has made gifts to the Ashby Endowment in the Residential College, the Levinson Program Endowment in Jewish Studies and the Sullivan Distinguished Professorship in Science.

One nominator said she is known for her warmth, humor and generosity. Another spoke to her years of working for children.

“Claudia represents the very best that all of us strive for – serving our communities by speaking for those unable to speak for themselves.”

Katie Marshall ’11 has put her communication studies degree to good use. In the two years since her graduation, she has taken a job in corporate communications for Volvo Financial Services Global Headquarters. She is active in the Junior League of Greensboro and is the interim chair of customer development for the Bargain Box – the League’s major fundraiser. The former Student Government Association president is still involved in the life of the university, serving as communications chair of the UNCG Alumni Club of Greensboro and volunteering with the UNCG Career Services Center. Most recently, Marshall spoke at the new TEDxGreensboro about the intersection between college and professional life. One nominator said, “Katie is indeed a dreamer and can make things happen with the simplest of ideas.” Another said, “She embodies the spirit of UNCG, actively participates in UNCG events, succeeds in her career, serves the community and serves as a leader.”

By Beth English

Photo by David Wilson